How do you use your Ravelry queue?

The Ravelry queue system seems pretty simple: if you see something you’d like to make, you put it in your queue. Then later, when you’re ready to make a new thing, you look through the queue, choose something, and away you go.

But… how do you decide what goes in? Do you ever take stuff out without making it? How often do you change the order? How do you find things? One of the knitting photo challenges reminded me recently that everyone does it differently.

I joined Ravelry in 2011. When I first joined, I didn’t know how to knit (only crochet) and was doing a lot of amigurumi toys and baby presents, so I used my favourites for stuff I’d made and wanted to make again, and used my queue for everything else. I’d get an idea in my head and queue 15 similar patterns while I decided on one. I’d queue piles of free-this-week patterns in case I saw the perfect yarn. I’d queue stuff for technique ideas. I’d queue stuff because I liked the photography. And I never-hardly-ever triaged the queue.

My crafting has changed a lot since 2011: I learned to knit and I started mostly making stuff for myself to wear and hardly ever repeat a pattern. (It’s not that I have a problem with doing that;’it’s just that there are so many beautiful things and so little time!) My skills have changed, my stash has changed, I’ve changed climates twice… Plus Ravelry has added features and I’ve learned to use more of them, so I have a different toolbox than I started with.

[Picture: climate change. This is what passes for a cold winter here. Hah! 🇨🇦]

I don’t want to say that I’ve been using my queue incorrectly, I can definitely say that the way I’d been using it wasn’t working well for me anymore. It was time to clean up. But there were probably 600 things in there! It was daunting.

Since I’ve been in “finish all the stuff in progress” mode for months, though, I decided it was time. I could redirect my urge to start new things by instead planning out some stuff for the year, and clean things up before the yarn crawl so I had an idea of what I needed to buy. It’s been weirdly but pleasantlty cathartic.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve gone from 600ish down to well under 200, and I’m expecting to make it down under 100. That’s still probably 10 years of knitting at my current rate, so I’ll likely never finish even my shortened queue. But that’s never bothered me; what bothered me was not being able to find things quickly (when I was trying to justify my yarn purchases or figure out if I needed more of something).

You made it this far; have a peek at my new queue:

I’ve got a mix of old and new, but heavy on the new. That’s expected with all those changes in tastes and skills, and the pure excitement of new pattern releases. I haven’t bothered with precise ordering, but stuff on the first page is stuff I’ve been finding yarn for and stuff I could cast on any time.

Funniest find: I queued a hat pattern back in 2015 that gave me a jolt when I found it because I recognised the name… A colleague from work who I only met last year! I’ll have to tell her. I might even still knit it!

Most popular designer in my queue: pdxknitterati has the most patterns on my first page but a lot of tincanknits sweaters survived the cull and are hiding in the later pages because I’m still choosing next winter’s toddler sweater. I probably won’t knit them all, although toddler sweaters *are* addictively fast compare to adult ones.

Here’s the yarn that I’m currently planning for pdxknitterati’s Lucky Star design:

But I also have yarn ordered for her Oregon Sky design in Knitted Wit’s Glow Up collection *and* I have yarn (but not yet beads) for her Garland Shawl. That one actually *wasn’t* in my queue — I thought it had been for years, but apparently I’d queued a pile of her other designs but that one was stored only in my head. I hadn’t even bought the pattern though I could have sworn I had. Weird! It’s in the queue now. Her similarly-shaped Fern Lace Shawelette remains the piece I wear the most out of everything I’ve knit. If you met me at a conference in the past however many years since I knit it, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me in it. It’s even in many of the videos of me speaking, beause it’s *perfect* for holding the mic in the right position for me. I think it’s even in the clip of me in the Google Summer of Code video!

Stash diving win: I’ve had this stunner from Fierce Fibers since last year’s yarn crawl. It’s got yak in it, it’s a beautiful subtle shift and I wanted a pattern that would make it sing. I think I’ve finally got one: the Whakairo Cowl. I’m a bit worried about the (super soft, amazing) halo messing with the stitch definition so I might not make it past the first 20 rows, but I’m hopeful!

Most technical? It might be Toph or Dreamcatcher, both of which use some short row stuff i haven’t done before. But I have a feeling that I haven’t found the most technical one yet in my queue triage, because I haven’t found that time I tried to find the most fancy plant-inspired brioche I could.

Most excited about? Seriously, it’s just about everything on that first page. Spilling into the second. This has been a great diversion from casting on All The Things, but it certainly hasn’t lessened the urge at all!

Biggest lie? I keep saying I’m not casting on right now, but two of those things on the first page have knit a longs starting this week, so I’m probably going to cast *something* on by this weekend and wind yarn for a second. Good thing that just like with my queue, I get to change the rules of what I’m doing when I think it suits me better.

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2019

This year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl was something of a disappointment to me. Not because it wasn’t a good weekend, but my husband booked a conference on top of the crawl (after promising not to do that, he looked at the website before it was updated properly and got the wrong dates, so it was as disappointing to him as to me), my friend who usually visits for the crawl couldn’t make it this year, and while I had two most excellent friends visit from Seattle and help with the toddler-wrangling, the Dread Pirate was not really interested in letting me look at more than one or two displays before he wanted my full attention. I didn’t even manage to finish my mystery knit-a-long in time to wear it on the crawl!

In the end, I hit three stores and got some pretties and escaped with a slightly miffed baby and bemused friends, and all in all it went well, it just wasn’t what I wanted. I feel kind of weird feeling dissatisfied about what was frankly a pretty nice weekend with friends visiting, but I guess sometimes you just feel the way you feel. Anyhow, here’s my pretties:

My three stores were Twisted, where I got the Hazel Knits yarn (intended for one of the Elemental hats, probably Toph); Knotty Lamb, where I got the little Sweet Georgia rainbow cube and the Twill & Print progress keeper/stitch marker “yarn bomb”; and For Yarn’s Sake where I picked up a Knitted Wit gradient sixlet to make pdxknitterati’s Lucky Star Shawl pattern (which I’ve wanted to do since I saw it).

I also hit up Black Sheep for my usual knitting group, and they’re having a 30% off store closing sale (I’m so sad, but they’ll stay open online) and picked up skein of Teresa Ruch tencel that… I’m not sure what it’ll be but I need another summer shawl and I wear my other tencel stuff All The Time once it gets warm. I picked up a few skeins of Scrumptious the week before, and I’ll pick up a few more things this weekend I imagine.

However, I did finish the MKAL after the fact, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out! You’ve already seen clue 1, so here’s the rest.

Clue 2 (now we change directions):

Clue 3 (omg, a new colour appears!):

Clue 4 (ooh, lace time):

Clue 5: finished! I added a contrast bind-off because I didn’t feel like playing yarn chicken. I probably would have been fine, but I knew I was tight on yarn so I’d been planning to do it anyhow, and after seeing some finished shawls on the crawl and on social media, I was convinced it was the way to go. And it was! It really kicks the lace up a notch, I think, especially while worn:

And here’s a more full-shawl shot so you can see the glory that is the full design. This was a Romi Hill design and I hear she does some other fun mystery knits, so I might have to see about taking part in another of hers. But not any time soon! I’m still digging out from my half-finished projects.

It would have been nice to have it done to wear on the crawl, but this is definitely going to get plenty of wear anyhow. And it was fun to knit!

So, despite my personal disappointment, I had a good time and … well, at least I didn’t spend too much money on yarn this year?

2018 fiber goals: how did I do?

Last year, I set myself some fiber goals for 2018. So, how did I do?

2018 goals:

  1. Use more of my project kits
  2. More amigurumi!
  3. Spin the neat fiber kit Kathy got me
  4. Organize the stash

2018 Results:

1. Project kit success! I made up a beanie bag, started a cowl kit (but haven’t finished that one), and bought and started a Cascadial Wrap kit. Plus I mostly kept up with my Shawl Club subscription. I guess new kits don’t solve my pileup problem, but they make me happy and it’s nice to see that investing in pretty kits is a good thing to keep doing.

Cascadial Wrap:

Shawl club:

2. Amigurumi success! I made the baby Dread Pirate Potato an elephant that lives in his travel toy bag, a dino that lives at home, a pumpkin, and started an amigurumi advent calendar that will be my decorations next year.

Elephant:

Dinosaur:

Pumpkin:

Advent:

3. Fiber fail? I didn’t touch the kit, but I *did* do some pretty spinning and dyeing so I don’t feel so bad about it. Turns out the Dread Pirate loves my spinning wheel, which is great because I can leave it set up and he’ll touch it and enjoy it, but it’s hard to get time to use it myself. I’m going to have to work on a habit for next year.

Dye and spin experiment:

4. Stash success! I got most of the yarn into organized boxes other than the worsted and sock yarn I peruse regularly for inspiration. I managed to use more older yarn this year because it turns out I select based on squishing and comparing. So the stash has become better inspiration — something I really thought deeply about because I read A Stash of One’s Own this year. Total win!

Partway through organization:

There’s a row on the bottom that’s fabric boxes full of fabric, kits, and some recent purchases.

Appropriate current state:

More baby proof! It needs smaller labels.

Decoration/closeup:

Summary:

3/4 clear wins isn’t bad and I think my dye and spin experiment filled a similar niche to the fiber kit I didn’t touch, so I feel like I kept some spinning up even if I did it a different way. I think the yarn kits were a good fit for me, and the stash re-org got me in shape so that my office in nearly toddler friendly, and it helped me find treasures.

I’m still figuring out what I’ll strive for in 2019. Maybe this year is the year of the fingering weight sweater? Try the spinning set again? I’ve already got plans to take a steeking class so maybe that’s the easy goal #1!

Craftvent 2017

Advent calendars aren’t a big part of my childhood, but I liked the idea of getting little presents all through December, and since I’d intentionally cut back on gift knitting, I had time to do a mystery-a-long, so I bought into Jimmy Beans’ Craftvent.

It’s a nice kit, filled with knitting tools (including needles and everything else in the photo above) and enough yarn for the mystery shawl. Well, MAYBE enough yarn for the shawl; a lot of people ran out of yarn #2.

I didn’t run out, though it was close! Unfortunately, the upset over yarn shortages and the posting of spoilers made the Facebook group they made for the kal super angry and not fun until jbw realized they had a problem and laid out ground rules. I don’t think Facebook is really designed to deal with spoilers, and they should have stuck with Ravelry, which has tools and conventions about spoiler and no spoiler threads that would have really improved the experience.

I liked the pattern ok. There was not much mystery for the middle clues, but since the yarns were also part of the mystery that didn’t bother me as much as it might have. (Picture above in grey to show that there is a subtle difference between yarn 1 and 3)

It’s a lousy time of year for me to have a calendar based thing going, so I started opening boxes early, which made me more chill about spoilers at least.

I didn’t finish before Dec 25th rolled by, but that’s ok.

It was a pretty busy season!

And I did get it done before I left Ottawa and blocked after I got home.

It’s gotten me thinking a lot about designing a similar “Christmas in July” advent out of season, so it hits at a less busy time of year. It’d be a neat way to showcase some yarn from my local yarn store, but i think I’d want a lower price point so it’d have to be a bit lighter on the goodies. Maybe I’ll try to design a simple scarf and see if I could make it work!

As for doing the jbw Craftvent again, I’m not sure. It’s fun and I have no regrets (except maybe for joining the fb group) but I think i might try one that’s all yarn or use the same amount of money to get surprise yarns at a time of year when I can appreciate them more.

Still, it was a fun thing to do this year!

Works in progress: late 2017

Turns out, in a surprise to no one, it’s a lot harder to blog with a baby! I’ve traded my “real” SLR camera for my phone 99% of the time, and my laptop is sitting neglected and whining that it hasn’t had backups for 57 days, which would be scary if it actually had any new data on it…

I can knit and use my phone while breastfeeding, though, so let’s talk about what I can do rather than what I can’t!

.. Like take baby butt selfies. While knitting. Mad skillz, yo.

Here’s the projects I had on the needles before Yanksgiving (thanks to my sister for this terrible portmanteau for American Thanksgiving):

That upper left one is a baby sweater that thankfully was mostly finished before J put it in the wash (but thankfully not the dryer!) . Haven’t taken new pictures, but I will once the ends get woven in better and the buttons get put on. It’s too big, but I tell myself he’ll grow into it. Like the other 3 sweaters I’ve already made for him. This was a “practice your intarsia” plus a “learn to knit while breastfeeding” item. It worked!

Next up, some pretty lace I started in the summer before I decided to make my sister a birthday shawl as a joke. I’ll write about that later. This is from Kelli Slack’s shawl book, and it fits the niche of “tiny complex project” for when I’m going to be knitting for a while. This… was a more important niche when I was waiting for baby Potato to arrive. I’ll finish it eventually, but it tends to get sidelined by the new hotness a lot.

Speaking of new hotness… This is the unihorn magic KAL. It’s my new easy travel knit, since complexity wasn’t what I wanted while visiting my inlaws or paying attention to baby Potato on the plane.

The little bag is the new travel cube from Tom Bihn, and it fit the niche of “tiny bag that fits knitting, wallet, passport and can be stuffed in the diaper bag when needed” so I am very satisfied.

The Historic Portland MKAL is also from Kelli Slack. I’m behind: clue 4 came out on Saturday and I’m less than halfway through clue 3, but I’ll probably finish this one soon. If I were to knit it again, I’d swap colours for every repeat instead of per section as described in the KAL instructions — one of the gals in my Saturday knitting group is doing hers with more colours and that also looks great. But I love the yarn and it’s so nicely charted that it feels easy and relaxing even though there’s a lot going on in there.

And one more MKAL: this is an advent calendar from Jimmy Beans Wool. It was a splurge, but I like the little gift every day. I don’t like the new facebook group so much because it’s been really intense about spoilers, so I think I’ll just post progress elsewhere and not engage. There have been some super cute notions, and even the needles came on day 2! Love the colourful stitch markers and that border!

I also have one gift to knit, but I changed my plan for it once I saw the indie gift along patterns, so I’m currently waiting for my yarn to arrive. Wish me luck finishing on time with all these other lovelies to work on!